Moist Gingerbread Snack Cake

This deeply spiced and moist gingerbread snack cake is complete with swirls of cream cheese frosting and tart cranberries on top. A low-key gingerbread dessert the whole family will love!

gingerbread snack cake topped with cream cheese frosting

Let me present you with the dessert I’m making for Christmas dinner!

Well, the dessert I’m making for after Christmas dinner. Though during Christmas dinner is perfectly acceptable. Or even Christmas breakfast, Christmas lunch, and Christmas 10pm late night craving. This gingerbread cake has no time-of-day limitations and therefore I call it a gingerbread snack cake.

slice of gingerbread cake with cream cheese frosting on a white plate with a fork

I’m also making snickerdoodles, no-bake cookies, and coconut macaroons. I think we all agree that there can never be too much dessert on Christmas!

Before we begin, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. This is a moist cake. I know many of you despise that word but being a baker, I use the word approximately 5327 times a day!! Embrace the moist, since many gingerbread cakes are lacking in the moist department.

overhead image of gingerbread snack cake topped with cream cheese frosting

How to Make Gingerbread Snack Cake

This is a very simple and versatile gingerbread cake recipe. It can be baked a multitude of ways: cupcakes, round cake, square, rectangle, with frosting, without frosting (can’t believe I’m saying that). When testing this recipe, I used a 9-inch springform pan. You can also use a 9-inch square baking pan.

The ingredients: each ingredient is an all-star in this gingerbread snack cake recipe!

  • Butter for a wonderfully buttery flavor.
  • Brown sugar to enhance the molasses flavor.
  • Molasses for, well, flavor. Lots of flavor so far.
  • And, as you know, molasses is an acid. So we are using baking soda to give the cake lots of lift!
  • over 1 Tablespoon of warm spices like ground ginger, ground cinnamon, and ground cloves.
  • Flour, salt, and egg because it’s a cake. 🙂

2 images of molasses in a glass measuring cup and mixture in saucepan with a spatula

Sticky Molasses in Cake

Whisk the molasses with hot water before adding it to the batter. Above, pictured on the left. Why? As you know, molasses is very thick. The thick goop, for lack of better words, doesn’t mix easily into cake batter. It’s fine for cookies and such, but hot water helps loosen the viscous consistency of molasses, which helps incorporate it into the batter. Because of the hot water, the cake batter is a little thin. Don’t worry, that’s normal. Above, pictured on the right.

gingerbread snack cake topped with cream cheese frosting

The resulting cake is dense, yet soft. Buttery and tender. Perfectly spiced, impeccably flavored. This gingerbread snack cake is absolutely fantastic on its own– you don’t even need frosting! But if you want to make it a little more special, add a slather of sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting. Absolute heaven on this not-too-sweet gingerbread spice cake.

And add some cranberries for color! Eaten all together, this cake is irresistible and will surpass all the gingerbread cakes you’ve tasted before. Moist gingerbread snack cake for life!

overhead image of slices of gingerbread snack cake topped with cream cheese frosting on white plates with forks

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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gingerbread snack cake topped with cream cheese frosting

Moist Gingerbread Spice Snack Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 55 minutes
  • Yield: serves 8-10
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This is my flavorfully spiced and moist version of the timeless classic gingerbread. The spice flavor is incredible! For different pan size options, see my recipe notes below.


Ingredients

  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) unsulphured molasses (I use Grandma’s Molasses brand)
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) hot water (about 100°F (38°C))
  • 1/2 cup (115g; 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (67g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting (optional)

  • 8 oz (224g) full-fat brick style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (210g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon (15ml) cream or milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • optional: 1/2 teaspoon maple extract or 2 Tablespoons (30ml) pure maple syrup
  • optional: cranberries for garnish

Instructions

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position and preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt together until combined. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk the molasses and hot water together.
  3. In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and beat on high speed for 1 minute until creamed together fairly well. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. On medium-high speed, beat in the egg and vanilla until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the hot water/molasses, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Avoid overmixing. Batter will be thin. Whisk out any big lumps.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for around 35 minutes or until the cake is baked through. All ovens are different and your cake could take a little more or less time. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean with only a couple moist (not wet) crumbs, it is done. Allow cake to cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack. The cake must be completely cool before frosting.
  5. Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium-high speed until creamy and no lumps remain- about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for 20 seconds then increase to high speed until everything is completely combined and the frosting is creamy. Taste. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. Spread on top of cake. Spread around the sides if you have extra frosting.
  6. Slice, serve, enjoy! Leftover frosted cake keeps well covered tightly in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The flavor gets even better after a day or two.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: The cake can be baked, cooled, and covered tightly at room temperature overnight. Likewise, the frosting can be prepared then covered and refrigerated overnight. Assemble and frost the cake the next day when you are ready to serve. Frosted or unfrosted cake can be frozen up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving. Honestly, it tastes much better fresh!
  2. Different Size Pans: No matter what size pan you use, bake the cake at 350°F (177°C). A 9 or 10-inch springform pan is best because this gingerbread cake rises pretty high. 9-inch cake pans are too short. You can also use a 9-inch square pan or 11×7-inch rectangle pan. The bake times will all be relatively 35 minutes. Use a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake to test for doneness. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. There is not enough batter for a 9×13-inch cake pan or a bundt pan.
  3. Cupcakes: For cupcakes, fill liners halfway and bake for 20-22 minutes.
  4. Layer Cake: I suggest making the batter twice. (Don’t double it– make it twice and combine the batters.) This will be a lot of batter and is the perfect amount for a 3 layer cake. Grease and fill three 9-inch cake pans halfway. Use any leftover batter for cupcakes. OR you can make the cake as is and slice in half to turn into a thinner 2 layer cake.
  5. Adapted from Gingerbread Muffins with Sweet Lemon Glaze.

Keywords: gingerbread spice cake, gingerbread cake

slice of gingerbread snack cake topped with cream cheese frosting on a white plate

138 Comments

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  1. Tracy | Baking Mischief says:

    Snack cake? What a dangerous and appealing concept.

    Gingerbread and cream cheese frosting might be my favorite winter flavor pairings! This cake sounds amazing, definitely worthy of spending Christmas with. 

  2. Heather (Delicious Not Gorgeous) says:

    i love baking, but there’s been so much baking going on that i’m ready for some easier, less dish-heavy recipes. this sounds perfect, while still being incredibly seasonal! (:

  3. Andrea @ Cooking with a Wallflower says:

    Oh my gosh! This cake looks so perfect for the winter holidays. And reading through the list of ingredients, I realize I already have everything. Guess what I’ll be doing later this week? =)

  4. I love how because it’s nearly Christmas, all these variations of gingerbread recipes are coming out! I can’t wait to try this, the cake looks so soft and moist 🙂

  5. I’m so excited about the 75 degrees, even though it’ll be rainy. Honestly, we won’t get a white Christmas, so let’s have a summery one! I don’t even have to go to Florida to get a taste of lovely weather! Yay for El Nino! And let a happy outdoor run begin.
    This will be great to come home to in any climate. I can never stop with the gingerbread once I start!

  6. Hi Sally,

    This cake sounds absolutely heavenly, and is officially on my baking list for tomorrow! What are your thoughts on using a bundt pan for it (would I need to make another batch of batter to add to it, what would the baking time be)? I may make orange cream cheese frosting, or maybe apple spiced cream cheese frosting. Mmm, I’m hungry!

    Thanks for any tips you may have, and Mery Christmas!

    1. Hey Merrily! Merry Christmas to you as well. I just added a note about the bundt pan. This cake will not fit into a bundt pan. You will likely have to make two batches of batter and fill the bundt 3/4 full. I’m unsure of the exact bake time. Do not double this recipe as it risks overmixing and a dense cake.

      1. Thank you so much for the tip! I’ll definitely make the batter per your advice, and will start at the low end of bake time per my pan’s instructions. So excited about this one!

  7. Haha, your “moist” paragraph is hilarious. And your pictures are beautiful, as always! I love the seasonal touches like the ornaments…you obviously put so much thought into everything! I hope you enjoy your cake…I might be making coconut macaroons as well, and definitely cookie-dough truffles (it’s required of me 😉 )

  8. Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop says:

    I’m all about eating this cake with my coffee in the morning….I’m not waiting till after dinner! We are having a white Christmas!  It snowed over a foot during the last two days!  Beautiful!

    1. You are so blessed! It’s spring time here in my part of Michigan. I need snow! Maybe you can send some our way?

  9. Emma {Emma's Little Kitchen} says:

    “Snack Cake”, love it. I’m just going to start calling all cake snack cake. This looks truly delicious, and exceptionally MOIST! Thanks for another great recipe Sally, Happy Holidays!!

  10. Seriously – you always seem to know when I am having recipe blahs! I have been trying to come up with that perfect something – and wah-lah! You post it. 🙂 You saved me once again!! I hope you guys have a very Merry Christmas and you are able to relax some. Hugs!

  11. This looks amazing! I might try this in cupcake form with the lemon glaze from your gingerbread muffin recipe…. sounds like the perfect combo with some Christmas coffee or mulled wine!

  12. Hey Sally! I’ve been ALL about the gingerbread this year, and this cake looks amazing! My mouth is watering imaging it with the cream cheese frosting. What do you think about using a bundt pan? Thanks! Happy Holidays!! 

    1. Hi Melissa! See my recipe note. Happy holidays to you too!

      1. Thanks so much for the quick response! 

  13. Mm this cake looks amazing! Don’t know if I’ll get around to it this Christmas but I see gingerbread as winter dish, not just a “Christmas” one. Think I’ll try it with a simple vanilla frosting though – it is my favourite 🙂

  14. I live for snack cakes.
    Just kidding; but seriously, so good!! 🙂

  15. Hi, what kind of molasses would I need to use? Light or dark?

    Thank! 

    1. Dark is best.

      1. Thank you so much for the quick response! Deciding between whether to make this recipe or your chocolate gingerbread cake for Christmas 🙂 

  16. I’ve had to make 3 batches of Spicy Christmas Cookies this year, so this cake is a serious consideration to fill up the food hounds (I can no longer say teenage food hounds because one of them is no longer a teenager!).

    Hope you have a really Merry Christmas Sally, and best wishes for the year to come.  I expect you have many exciting plans to share with us eventually!

  17. I love a good gingerbread, never baked one with cream cheese frosting… Will need to be done, looks fabulous.   Happy Christmas to you send yours Sally.  x

  18. You and yours

  19. Ooh, yum! I’ve been looking for a recipe for Christmas dessert that isn’t pie (I baked two pies for Thanksgiving). This one might be perfect, and I already have all the ingredients!

  20. Well Sally- this is the last piece of the Christmas dinner puzzle!  I was looking for something not too over the top sugary, we’re actually tired of chocolate (weird, right?) This will be perfect for the dessert table, along with some fresh clementines.  I really enjoy your recipes and your writing.  Most of the time, I have to do a trial run of something before I serve it, but not with your recipes.  I know they will turn out.  Have a great Christmas with that hansome man of yours, and of course, Jude.  Our little Milo had his own stocking this year filled with treats and I bought him a new sweater( which he refuses to wear!!).

  21. Can molasses be substituted?

  22. Emily @ Life on Food says:

    Love love love! Gingerbread is a must any time of day this time of year. Looks lovely!

  23. Josey Blincoe says:

    Hi! I would love to make this into a double layer cake with my 9 inch round pans since i dont have a spring form. So instead of doubling it, should I juts make two of the same batter? Would the cake bre too large?

    1. Hi there,

      I was going to make a bundt cake, but didn’t have enough time to make two batches of batter. I decided to use my 2 round 9 inch pans, and split the batter between them. I lined the pans with parchment paper first, and baked them for 25 minutes. They were perfectly done. Looking forward to tasting them tomorrow! Merry Christmas!

  24. Elaine @ FoodParsed says:

    Adding hot water to molasses sounds like a great idea. Every time I use molasses, I always have trouble getting the goop to come out of the container. 

    The photographs are lovely, and I really like the seasonal touches. Would the cranberries taste good with the cake, or are they just for garnish?

    1. They taste wonderful with the cake! Even better if they are sugared cranberries. Also make a cute garnish, too.

  25. Hi Sally,

    I am trying this right now for christmas eve family dinner. one question, would the cream cheese frosting melt if I leave it out for 2 hours before serving? I already place on the cake and it seems a bit soft.

    Thanks, can wait to have a bite! you have such awesome recipes!

    1. I wasn’t working on Christmas Eve, so this is a little late. But it would be fine at room temp for a few hours. 

  26. Just made these as cupcakes… makes exactly 18 med size cupcakes! even at an elevation of 6600′, they seemed to turn out perfectly! the final taste test will be tonight – i am an ICU nurse working nights, so these hopefully delicious cakes will be brightening the cmas eve and cmas night for the staff… rigorous taste testers, we nurses! fingers crossed they pass 🙂 happy holidays and stay safe!! thanks for the delic recipes!! 

    1. Happy holidays to you as well! I’m glad you made this into cupcakes and thanks for letting me know about the high altitude difference, too!

  27. Merry Christmas, Sally! Enjoy your day today 🙂 and thank you for this lovely recipe! I think I’m going to make one for Christmas dinner as well. Although, I’m torn because I’m going to make this & very vanilla cupcakes, but I kind of wanted to switch them around and make this into cupcakes & vanilla into a cake. I can’t decide! my cupcake liners are black & red and they say “have a sweet holiday” so I just thought the gingerbread would look nicer in them than the vanilla ones and that’s my main reason for wanting to do them opposite 🙂 anyways again, Merry Christmas! Enjoy your holidays Sally. Kevin & Jude as well!

    1. Stephanie, hope you had a very merry (and tasty!) christmas!

  28. Oh my God! It looks so moist and delicious.

  29. You made me cringe with the “m” word but it is definitely necessary in the baking world. I still cringe, though! lol

    Funny story: I definitely read, “I’ll let you know the different size pans you can use in the recipe notes below.” as…. “I’ll let you know the different size PANTS you can wear in the recipe notes below”. HAHAHAH

    1. Oh! Yes, pans not pants. I’m cracking up.

  30. I had a great gingerbread recipe…where did it go?  Who knows!  I started searching online and trying out recipes.  Thankfully, not too far into my endeavor, I discovered your recipe!  This gingerbread is moist and has a great texture, not too heavy/dense.  I made it exactly as written – absolutely no problems.  It has a wonderful gingerbread flavor.  My sons and husband love it.  I make it and within a short period of time – it’s completely gone.  Sure fire way to know that a recipe is a keeper at my house!  🙂

    1. Glad you found your new go-to gingerbread recipe!

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